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Title:What the Publishers Won't Admit About the Demise of the Great American Novel
Author(s):Sheets, Diana E.
Subject(s):Book publishing
Literary fiction
State of fiction
Abstract:Want to read a contemporary American novel written in the tradition of For Whom the Bell Tolls or Absalom, Absalom! or The Adventures of Augie March or Manhattan Transfer? Good luck. By the 1980s, fiction that was meaningfully engaged with America had all but disappeared. Yes, there are a few writers in their seventies and eighties today still committed to storytelling with its finger on the pulse of society—think of Tom Wolfe and Philip Roth. However, with the recent death of Norman Mailer, they have become a rarity. This should come as no surprise since publishers do no embrace fiction these days committed to telling the American story. But is this because readers interested in understanding our society through their reading of great literature have perished or have publishers simply decided that audience is not worth pursuing? Or to pose the question differently, do publishers really have a sense of our national marketplace or have their global predilections for "literary tofu" dramatically altered story selections, thereby ignoring the desires of readers hungry for truth or excellence to be found in American exceptionalism? And, most important of all, have these misguided selections contributed to the demise of the great American novel?
Issue Date:2008-01
Citation Info:Originally published on
Publication Status:published or submitted for publication
Rights Information:Copyright 2008 Diana E. Sheets
Date Available in IDEALS:2008-02-17

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